A volunteer Karridale firefighter received Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ highest honour last week for her part in coming to the aid of a man seriously injured during a bushfire. Karridale Bush Fire Brigade officer Tamara Manser was among those first on the scene at Mindful Earth Sanctuary in February this year when residents of the contentious and now closed commune tried to extinguish a grass fire that had burnt among farm buildings. As the Times reported earlier this year, a French backpacker staying on the farm set himself ablaze after mistakenly dousing flames with a container filled with alcohol-based hand sanitiser. The man was taken to hospital with burns to 80 per cent of his body. DFES Supt Phil Brandrett acknowledged Ms Manser’s vital intervention at the height of the incident when she administered first aid. The volunteer poured cold water on the man to ease his burns and stayed with him, offering reassurance until the 20-year-old could be airlifted to Perth. Immediately after the incident, residents told the Times first responders had to deal with irate sanctuary residents who tried to intervene in those first-aid efforts. Ms Manser was awarded a certificate of commendation which was the highest DFES award “for service of meritorious nature and outstanding actions”. The firefighter used the award as an opportunity to urge residents to prepare for this year’s peak bushfire season. “Karridale Bush Fire Brigade is made up completely of volunteers who put their lives on the line anytime they attend a fire,” she said. “I just did what anyone else would have done if confronted with that situation.” Ms Manser asked residents to prepare their homes and have a fire plan ready for action. “It doesn’t have to be complicated, and you can use the free bushfire plan app,” she said. “It will give you and your loved ones a plan so you know exactly what you are going to do and where you are going to go in the event of a fire emergency. “It will really make a difference and will help me and my brigade to keep the community safe.” The fire at Mindful Earth was believed to have been started by a new generator. The site was previously the centre of a row within the wider Karridale community amid concerns about impromptu music festivals that later saw owner Boh Morel subject to prosecution by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River.